autism symptoms in adults

The rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children is increasing, resulting in more knowledge and resources.  More adults are aware of ASD, and realise that they may have some signs of autism.


Autism Symptoms in Adults.

The rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children is increasing, resulting in more knowledge and resources in the subject.  As a result, more and more adults are aware of ASD, and realise that they may have some signs of autism.

Identifying the symptoms of autism in adults can be difficult, as many of these individuals appear blunt, eccentric, and unusual. Aside from their autism symptoms, these individuals may seem uninterested in many activities. Depression and feelings of isolation can also accompany autism, as they have felt misunderstood their whole lives. 

ASD symptoms may go unnoticed or undiagnosed until adulthood.  Proper diagnosis of autism may replace an incorrect diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

For an autism diagnosis to be made, a professional will look at a wide range of symptoms and patterns of behaviour, then use their professional judgement.  

What are the signs that an adult has autism?

 Autism symptoms in adults can vary significantly between people.  One of the most common ways that autistic individuals can be diagnosed is through social interactions.  Autistic adults often have a hard time understanding nonverbal cues and social situations as well as using nonverbal communication themselves.  They may also have challenges engaging in meaningful conversation and struggle to recognise figures of speech or sarcasm.  They may also speak in a monotone voice and use limited facial expressions, which makes it difficult to relate to others.  They may seem rude and withdrawn, due to their challenges with conversation and social interaction.

Adults with autism have difficulty understanding what others are thinking or saying. Reading facial expressions and body language is often challenging. They may misinterpret gestures and sounds. They may not understand jokes or sarcasm. They may misunderstand social cues. 

Adults with autism can be blunt and rude, without meaning to be rude. They just don't realise their behaviour is inappropriate or making others feel uncomfortable.  They may not understand that certain behaviours are socially unacceptable. 

Adults with autism may have difficulty communicating their feelings. Sometimes they don't show emotions easily, and they don't express themselves in a way that people expect. 

Combining those challenges mentioned above means that adults with ASD often get anxious about social situations such as parties, meetings and dates.  They may even avoid social situations altogether.  It can be much more difficult to make good friends, which may contribute to loneliness.  These challenges can contribute to flow on diagnosis such as depression and anxiety disorder.

Autism is a spectrum, ranging from mild, high functioning autism, to more challenging forms of autism.  There's a range of signs of autism that are used in the diagnosis, however each person will have their own set of challenges, with no person being the same.  It's important to keep that in mind.  Whether you have autism yourself, or you know someone with autism, it's important to support yourself or others in a way that helps, not just follow a recipe that worked for someone else, or appears in a text book.

What are the challenges for adults with autism?

Many autistic adults can still face significant challenges in adult life. They may be able to hold a job, engage in serious relationships, and even live on their own, but they still face difficulties as a result of their autism.  Adult autism symptoms are often difficult for others to see, when the person has learnt to mask and hide their challenges.  

Autistic people face additional challenges, which vary depending on their individual symptoms.  An adult with sensory issues may require a quiet workplace environment and a place to work with minimal sensory input.  It's important to keep in mind that environmental factors may help or hinder the wellbeing of a person with autism.

Someone with repetitive behaviours may need certain accommodations to help them at work and at home.  Sometimes workplaces should be more diligent about structure in the workplace, such as daily routines as well as well-structured meetings.  Friends and colleagues should be mindful of any challenges with social communication to help them connect and feel more comfortable.

Treatment options.

Although many adults with autism do not seek a formal diagnosis, consulting with a doctor is a great first step. Most autism services are limited to those with a clinical diagnosis. Consult with your doctor about finding support and resources in your area.  Another great way to get involved in your community is to reach out to local support groups. Some communities have programs and resources to assist adults with autism. You can also seek help for co-occurring conditions, like depression or anxiety.

While the treatment options for ASD in children are generally quite limited, adults with the disorder may still benefit from various therapies. Some of these include cognitive, verbal, and applied behavioural therapies. While these are all beneficial, adults with ASD may benefit from different types of support, depending on their unique challenges. Psychologists and psychiatrists can perform official diagnoses. Licensed psychologists are more affordable and may specialise in autism. However, not all clinicians are trained in the treatment of adults with ASD.

For adults who have undiagnosed autism, treatment can help them improve their quality of life and function. Adults with autism may be socially isolated, and they may experience difficulty finding a job that is rewarding and well-paying. A variety of other conditions may also arise from their disorder, including mental and physical illnesses. Although these challenges may not be life-threatening, they can negatively impact a person's mental and physical well-being.

Adults with ASD may also have difficulty engaging with others outside their interests. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity and the quality of life of the person with ASD. In general, treatment options for autism include therapy with a healthcare provider and sometimes medication. However, they differ widely from one another. Fortunately, the number of adults seeking help for their condition is increasing. This increases the availability of resources and services for this population.

In addition to seeing a psychologist, you can attend a support group for adults with autism. This group will help you find other people who share your experiences and learn more about neurodiversity. Whether or not you're an adult with autism, finding a diagnosis will help you cope with symptoms and find resources to improve your quality of life. A cure for autism is not available, but there are treatments for those who are diagnosed. Therapies for autism depend on a person's age and signs, as well as the severity of the condition.


Warren Gouin
Warren Gouin

I'm a parent of a child that was diagnosed with autism. I'm an engineer and scientist with most of my career in the diagnostic pathology industry. I'm passionate about improve health and I want to help other parents of children with autism.

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